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Snider's rapid climb lands him in bigs

Snider's rapid climb lands him in bigs

NEW YORK -- Travis Snider told himself it couldn't be true. Believing that the Blue Jays had come calling, just because his name wasn't in the lineup for Triple-A Syracuse in the second game of a doubleheader on Thursday, would only set himself up for a disappointment.

"I didn't want to believe it," Snider said on Friday. "Then, everything ended up working out after the game as I had hoped."

Snider was summoned to the office of Syracuse manager Doug Davis, who delivered the good news. Toronto had indeed purchased the young outfielder's contract, completing Snider's rapid ascension from highly-touted high school hitter to big-league rookie in just three seasons.

"I got called into the office," Snider said, "And they told me I was coming up here to New York -- to Yankee Stadium. That was a pretty special moment."

Besides Davis, Snider was greeted by the rest of Syracuse's coaching staff, as well as Blue Jays assistant general manager Tony Lacava and Dick Scott, Toronto's director of player development. The group had some fun with the 20-year-old Snider, rattling off some of his statistics and giving him a hard time about his shaggy hair.

"I tried to get a haircut this morning before I got to the ballpark," said a chuckling Snider, who had never been to New York before this weekend. "But I couldn't find a place to go."

For Snider, the unexpected promotion was a dream come true, so much so that his dad, Denne, and sister, Megan, along with three of his close friends, made the cross-country trek to the Big Apple from Seattle to be there for his big league debut. The callup comes nearly a year after Snider's mom, Patty, died in a tragic car accident.

Snider has maintained a level head and a steady bat since being selected by the Blue Jays with the 14th overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. So, for Toronto, this is an opportunity to see what Snider is capable of doing on baseball's biggest stage, whether he's filling in as a left fielder or as the designated hitter.

"We really weren't thinking about bringing him up," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "But, the more we talked about it the last few days, we just said, 'You know what? He's really played well at Triple-A and he's played well at every level that we've put him in.'"

"He has been a kid that's pretty much mature beyond his years," he added later. "So we don't think coming up here right now would phase him."

Since being drafted out of Jackson High School in Everett, Wa., all Snider has done is hit .299 with 50 home runs and 225 RBIs over 305 Minor League games. Along the way, the stocky left-handed-hitter has posted a .513 slugging percentage and a .375 on-base percentage, while making a quick climb up the organizational ladder.

This season, Snider began the season with Class A Dunedin, spent the majority of the year with Double-A New Hampshire and played 18 games for Syracuse. Overall, he hit .275 with 23 homers and 91 RBIs over 133 games. At Triple-A, Snider posted a .344 average with two homers and 17 RBIs in his brief tour with the Chiefs.

Even in light of the success he's had, and the pile of accolades he's received over the past three seasons, Snider didn't necessarily believe he'd be suiting up for Toronto this season. He was prepared to head home after finishing the year with Syracuse, preparing for the Arizona Fall League in October.

"It was definitely a goal," said Snider, referring to making it to the Majors. "But it's one of those things that you can only hope and imagine and you can't get caught up worrying about it. Good things happen and, luckily, things happened the way I could've wished for."

And maybe faster than even the Blue Jays anticipated.

"I don't think you ever take a high school kid and think he's going to be here at 20 years old," Ricciardi said. "But he's just more of the exception."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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